Sunday, December 31, 2017

'The fruit of war': Pope Francis prints photo of Nagasaki victims/’This Man Is a Monster': Trump Under Fire for Dismissing Entire HIV/AIDS Council by FedEx Letter

'The fruit of war': Pope Francis prints photo of Nagasaki victims
Photo release is a first during holiday season


·          CNN

Posted: Dec 30, 2017 11:09 PM MST
Updated: Dec 31, 2017 02:48 AM MST

'The fruit of war': Pope Francis prints photo of Nagasaki victims

Pope releases photo 'The fruit of war' Nagasaki 1945, taken by American photographer Joseph Roger O'Donnell.
(CNN) - Pope Francis is having cards printed and distributed showing a 1945 photo of victims of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki along with the words "the fruit of war."
The photo captures a boy carrying his dead brother on his shoulders while he waits for his turn at the crematory. It was taken by US Marine photographer Joe O'Donnell shortly after the bombs were dropped at the end of World War II.
The leader of the world's Roman Catholics asked that "the fruit of war" be written in the back of the card along with his signature "Franciscus."
A short caption explains the content and origin of the photo, it reads in part: "The young boy's sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips which are oozing blood."
After the bombs dropped by the US on Nagasaki and Hiroshima forced Japan's surrender and ended World War II in 1945, O'Donnell spent four years documenting the aftermath in the two cities, according to Library of Congress records.
His photos were published in the book titled "Japan 1945: A US. Marine's Photographs from Ground Zero."
CNN's senior Vatican analyst John Allen wrote on his website: "Though release of the photo in the run-up to New Year's does not add anything substantive to the pontiff's positions, it's nevertheless the first time Francis has asked that a specific image be circulated in the holiday season, suggesting he believes its message is especially relevant at the moment."
The Pope has previously condemned nuclear weapons and highlighted the impact of conflict on children, Allen wrote.

Copyright 2017 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved.


This Man Is a Monster': Trump Under Fire for Dismissing Entire HIV/AIDS Council by FedEx Letter

Friday, December 29, 2017
Critics note that with this "dangerous" and "appalling" decison, the Trump "administration appears to be blatantly admitting it will do nothing" to address the epidemic.

The White House was adorned with a red ribbon
The White House was adorned with a red ribbon for World AIDS Day in 2015. (Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)

In a decision denounced as "dangerous" and "appalling," President Donald Trump has enraged members of the public health and LGBTQ communities by reportedly firing the remaining 16 members of his HIV/AIDS council in letters delivered to them by FedEx on Thursday.

Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) had resigned in protest earlier this year, as Common Dreams reported, on the grounds that the Trump administration "has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease."

Scott Schoettes, a Lambda Legal senior attorney who resigned from PACHA in June, tweeted about Thursday's firings, claiming Trump has "no respect for their service" and warning about what future HIV/AIDS policy may look like under this president:

Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed. #WeObject #PACHA6 #Resist

Gabriel Maldonado, head of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution and a remaining member of PACHA, confirmed the firings to the Washington Blade, but added that the "explanation is still unclear" and "I can only speculate" as to why they were dismissed.
"Like any administration, they want their own people there," Maldonado said, acknowledging "ideological and philosophical differences" and that many of the remaining members, including her, were appointed by former President Barack Obama.

   "I was co-chair of the disparities committee," Maldonado added, "so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issuing of diverse communities, specifically looking at the impacts of the LGBT community, namely, the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women...and a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration."

Sources close to the decision told Newsweek "they suspect the charter for PACHA will be re-written with renewed focus on abstinence and religious, non-evidence based public health approaches." Newsweek noted that while the Obama administration also dismissed all panel members who were appointed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, the current administration has been particularly complacent on the issue, and "Trump has yet to appoint an HIV/AIDS chief, the first time since Bill Clinton created the position in 1993 that a president has failed to do so."

   Critics swiftly denounced the firings on social media, including one who noted that with this decision, the Trump "administration appears to be blatantly admitting it will do nothing about HIV/AIDS epidemic."

People living with #HIV/AIDS are some of the most vulnerable in our communities. #Trump and Co. have now dismantled #PACHA, the council serving those marginalized people. Absolutely cruel. #Resist #ActUP

😡 HIV/AIDS is slamming the nation, especially the South. We cannot afford lack of leadership in #HIV policy, treatment, prevention, and research lest we return to the heartbreak of the 1980s and 1990s. #PACHA …

Some accused the president of trying to appease his more religious supporters, while others noted Vice President Mike Pence's influence over the administration and his track record on HIV/AIDS.

Let’s make no mistake: Trump is firing these people to appease a religious right who believe that HIV/AIDS is appropriate punishment for homosexuals. They are trying to kill us. …

More reasons for concern about where the Trump/Pence administration's health care priorities do - and don't - lie. (As if we needed anymore). …

Now that Trump has fired the entirety of the HIV/AIDS advisory council, it is worth remembering that Mike Pence enabled Indiana’s recent HIV outbreak through inaction. …

In a series of tweets, journalist and activist George Johnson outlined how the move is just the latest in a series of decisions by the adminstration to dismantle federal efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
So Trump has disbanded the Presidents Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). A recap and some thoughts.

So we are clear in January they shut down ONAP (Office of National Aids Policy)

A thread

In March they announced no cuts to HIV funding, then proposed 50 million in cuts domestically and 300 million to PEPFAR (globally). A dangerous and unprecedented move against the HIV community.

By May they suggested cuts of closer to 1.2 billion dollars combined domestically and globally. This led to 6 members leaving the council. In September, the actual budget kept HIV funding stable based on prior years.

And now, he has eliminated the Council.

HIV is still deadly, both here and abroad.
HIV still affects Black and Brown communities at higher rates.
HIV is still growing in the South due to lack of resources and education.
HIV hurts Black women and Black LGBTQ people at epidemic levels.

Stay fighting.

This fight is far from over, and despite the constant attacks from this administration, HIV activists and advocates have been here before. We did not give up when Reagan was on his bullshit, and we will not stop now because Trump has always been bullshit.

If anything, find a renewed spirit to continue to do the work to end this administration, work on a grassroots approach where community helps community for the shortcomings of an anti-black establishment.

Johnson was not alone in making a reference to former President Ronald Reagan—who is often criticized for "his shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS"—or noting how this move is just one of many by the Trump administration that could have dire consequences for Americans battling HIV/AIDS.
Trump budget proposed dramatically slashing HIV/AIDS funding:
-$150 million cut from HIV prevention programs
-$26 million cut from housing for people with AIDS
-$800 million from global programs
And now this
👇 …

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

New Essay Collection on History of Wobblies Offers Insights for Today's Radicalized

New Essay Collection on History of Wobblies Offers Insights for Today's Radicalized
Saturday, December 30, 2017

By Paul Buhle, Truthout | Book Review

Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as the Wobblies, gather together in a large crowd during a rally in Union Square, New York City, April 11, 1914. (Photo by Bain News Service/Interim Archives/Getty Images)
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as the Wobblies, gather together in a large crowd during a rally in Union Square, New York City, April 11, 1914. (Photo: Bain News Service / Interim Archives / Getty Images)
We are amidst a revival of scholarly but also popular discussion about the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), its history, its international connections and its legacy. Kenyon Zimmer, author of an incisive monograph on American anarchism, Immigrants Against the State, now joins two other editors in a selection of essays entitled Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW (Pluto Press, 2017) -- not quite so universal as the title might suggest, but usefully connected. Young people radicalized by many factors but seeing electoral politics as limited in value are likely to find the insights here helpful.
The IWW, founded in Chicago in 1905 and diminished by 1925 into an extended propaganda circle, did not really cross boundaries easily. Better said: Its ideas became part of the common currency of direct action afar during the 1910s, and in some places well after. Wobblies in any organizational sense had a sporadic presence outside the US, mainly in Australia, Canada (mostly under the title "One Big Union" and separated formally from the IWW), South Africa and among the activists who crossed back and forth from Mexico to the US. Odd mixtures of Wobblyism and De Leonism (expunged along with its leader from the IWW in 1907) deeply influenced syndicalist leaders for a historical moment in Scotland and Ireland. And so on. In some intriguing cases, the impact was heaviest on an individual who, in his or her own way, tried to apply Wobbly principals to the immediate situation, occasionally with significant if not long-lasting effect.
To put it this way, narrowing the definition would be unfair. The pamphlets and songs (available from early on in the Little Red Song Book) transcended boundaries, and even in stiff competition with other syndicalist visions, sustained an utterly unique aura of their own, thanks in no small part to the biting satire of the humor. Other versions of what may be called Wobblyism offered militancy, but not always encompassing the most depressed layers of working people. Indeed, French syndicalism, among others, depended upon the most skilled and politically committed artisans, in fairly exclusionary craft unions. In the US, where the division between the best- and least-paid workers across the industrialized world was most obvious, Wobblies found themselves battling against the craft union American Federation of Labor (AFL), and thus by necessity encompassing the poorest of the poor, including women workers and workers of color. This working vision, along with "Father Hagerty's Wheel of Fortune," the vision of a society with bosses and political parties abolished altogether, was articulated in a unique and stirring fashion, even if this revolution never happened, and if Wobblies at first mistook the Russian "Soviets" as kin.
Among the pieces here, Kenyon Zimmer revisits Immigrants Against the State by turning, this time to the Paterson, New Jersey, strike of 1913, actually led by the Detroit IWW, the De Leonite shadow faction that sought, for a while, to continue in its own way. What makes Zimmer so unique is his use of a variety of "foreign" language sources -- not foreign at all to the large sections of the American working class (and left) who treated English as a second language. Italian Americans, whose Italian Socialist Federation considered itself an organ of the IWW rather than the Socialist Party, took their native anarchism right into the Wobs, building solidarity in familiar ways, and extending it to their home country, notably in defense of the Lawrence Textile Strike's victims.
Were the Wobs really offering up French syndicalism in new clothes, as Dominique Pinsolle suggests in the second essay of the book? Not really. But the interchange on a variety of tactics or slogans, most especially "sabotage" (borrowed from the French "sabots," wooden shoes), makes much sense, or at least it did for the likes of William D. Haywood, even when the Socialist Party leaders removed him from the National Executive Committee for the sin of endorsing the one tactic that might work for the unskilled, powerless worker. Haywood was no anarchist, but a socialist whose vision of building radical industrial unions had everything to do with his experience in the West and his shared vision with Eugene V. Debs.
And what about those forgotten immigrants to the US, like the political refugees from British India to the American West Coast? In the third essay of the book, Tariq Khan covers the Ghadar movement, which pushed its own nationalist issues mainly, but found allies in the Wobs, open to all, as did the Asian workers who had enough self-organization to reach out. Many more experiences of immigrant anarchists and syndicalists might have been covered. The Spanish-Cuban cigar workers of Ybor City, Florida, offer a case in point; they maintained their strength until the Communists replaced them in the 1920s. Likewise, more could be done on the cross-border Wobbly organizing in Mexico. A recent biography of Wobbly martyr Frank Little by a sympathetic collateral descendant, asks why he would describe himself as part Indian, and answers logically: It served the transracial aura of the IWW. This is surely a claim that no AFL unionist would make, or want, given the very aim of craft unionism to limit work-place competition.
The role of the Wobblies in South Africa, forecasting the Communist role in organizing Black miners, offers the most striking possible picture of the Wobbly racial egalitarianism. Lucien Van der Welt gives us a remarkable story, and if Mark Derby's recuperation of the Wobs reaching out to Maori workers in New Zealand is perhaps more remarkable, it is because so little scholarship has been done in this area.
I am impressed by the pathos and by the research required for the life of Edith Frenette, by Heather Mayer's essay in the book. A cook in lumber camps of British Columbia, Frenette crossed the border to take part in Wobbly free speech fights, got herself arrested for singing "The Red Flag" in Missoula, Montana, among other activities, and actually leading the Everett, Washington, free speech effort. She devoted earnest effort, in the later 1910s, to defending Wobblies facing long prison sentences. What happened to her after 1918? Mayer could find no record.
The case of James Connolly is more familiar and more influential, from Ireland to the US. (Small confession: I produced a James Connolly Comic, drawn by Tom Keough, for the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rebellion). An autodidact intellectual like so many Wobs, Connolly wrote sophisticated analyses of imperialism, deep history of Irish life, and poems to be set to music. As Marjorie Murphy explains in Wobblies of the World, Connolly was also a mighty Irish labor leader, as he and James Larkin proved amidst the Dublin Lockout of 1913. It may be that the defeat hurled Connolly into the arms of the non-socialist Irish nationalists, or perhaps he was convinced that the moment for global rebellion had come and would not come again. His martyrdom is part of the legend of the Irish Republic, and lives today as the memory of few American radicals -- sad to say.
Much more could be said about this volume, but perhaps it is best to close with the work of folksinger and scholar Bucky Halker, whose pursuit of Joe Hill's songs reaching around the world offers convincing proof that the Wob message is universal, and the stamp of Wob greatness remains. Labor in the Trump era faces new challenges, a rapidly-changing demographic alongside sometimes drastically worsening conditions. Only solidarity can overcome these obstacles, and solidarity is the lesson of the IWW.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Paul Buhle is a retired labor historian.
By Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes | Report
By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview
By Ashoka Jegroo, Truthout | News Analysis

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

What were the top BDS victories of 2017?

What were the top BDS victories of 2017?

  The movement for Palestinian rights continues to grow across the world. (Alisdare Hickson/Flickr)

  It took just four days for a world famous singer to cancel her Tel Aviv show in response to her fans’ urging her to respect the international picket line.

   Lorde’s decision on Christmas Eve to pull the Tel Aviv show from her world tour – remarking that booking the gig in the first place “wasn’t the right call” – completed a successful year for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
2017 saw artists, performers, athletes, politicians, cultural workers, faith-based organizations, students, academics, unions and activists grow the movement for Palestinian rights.

  Israel has been taking notice, of course.

   Early on in the year, key Israel lobby groups admitted in a secret report – obtained and published in full by The Electronic Intifada – that they had failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending.

   The report outlined Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the BDS movement and set out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position.

   Similarly, in March, Israel’s top anti-BDS strategist conceded that the boycott Israel movement is winning – despite the Israeli government’s allocation of tens of millions of dollars and the formation of an entire governmental ministry whose sole focus is to combat BDS.

  Speaking at an anti-BDS conference in New York, Israeli ambassador Danny Danon stated that “the BDS movement is still active and still strong. Every day, academic and religious groups, student unions and investment firms are all falling prey to boycott calls.”

“Our South Africa moment is nearing”

  As Israel’s strategists and representatives panicked over their failures to stem the BDS tide, polls in the UKCanada and the US all showed that mainstream, public support for boycott and sanctions on Israel is growing apace.

  In California, the state’s Democratic Party chapter approved a resolution – without debate – that condemned Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and the denial of entry to activists who criticize the state.

  It also, notably, signaled support for organizers who engage with the BDS movement and who face expanding repression on campuses and by local, state and federal legislatures.
In the UK in December, the Labour Party’s shadow development minister Kate Osamor, a strong ally of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted her explicit approval of BDS.

   Over the summer, the High Court in London ruled that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the UK from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation, dealing a blow to Israel’s representatives seeking to criminalize the BDS movement.

  Meanwhile, in the face of Israel’s overt attempts to silence him and crush the popularity of BDS, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS movement, urged people around the world to increase boycott campaigns as the best way to show support for him and for the Palestinian people.

Barghouti won the Gandhi Peace Award in April for his work as a human rights defender. He had been subjected by Israel to a travel ban and open threats by that state’s top ministers last year.

   In March, Barghouti praised a landmark report published by the United Nations which concluded that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, drawing praise from Palestinians and ire from Israel and its allies.

   Barghouti said the UN report was a sign for Palestinians that “our South Africa moment is nearing,” adding that the report was “a stark indicator that Israel’s apartheid is destined to end, as South Africa’s did.”

   He remarked that the report “may well be the very first beam of light that ushers the dawn of sanctions against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”
Here are some of the other victories of the BDS movement in 2017, as reported by The Electronic Intifada.

Athletes, writers, chefs and artists ditched Israel

In February, professional US football players pulled out of a propaganda tour to Israel, with Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett announcing he would “not be used” by Israel’s government to whitewash its violations of Palestinian rights.

  “I want to be a ‘voice for the voiceless,’” Bennett added, “and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”

   In August, nine international artists pulled out of the Pop-Kultur festival in Germany because it accepted funding from the Israeli embassy. Palestinian campaigners said the “eloquent statements from the artists stand in stark contrast to the festival’s crude attempts to falsely portray the Palestinian boycott call as directed at individual Israeli artists, shrewdly omitting the fact that the protests were clearly aimed at the Israeli government involvement.”

  German media also joined in the smears, giving a platform to false accusations the boycott was an “anti-Semitic” move by “participants from various Arab nations.” But the pro-Israel spin was ably confronted by German Jewish and Israeli activists, who fully backed the boycott.

  Over the summer, a group of filmmakers, artists and presenters canceled their scheduled appearances at TLVFest, Israel’s premier LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv, following appeals by queer Palestinian activists and boycott supporters to withdraw.

  The high-profile cancellations in support of the BDS campaign prompted The Jerusalem Post to admit that while the festival “has been around for more than a decade, it has never faced a campaign this successful against it.”

   Later in the fall, some of the world’s top chefs pulled out of Round Tables, an Israeli government-sponsored propaganda initiative that uses international cuisine to gloss over Israel’s image.

   “The Round Tables festival is taking place while the Israeli military and Israeli settlers illegally living on stolen Palestinian land attack Palestinians during their annual olive harvest,” said Zaid Shoaibi, from PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

   And the literary group PEN America quietly revealed that it was no longer accepting funds from the Israeli government for its annual World Voices festival, following appeals from more than 250 high-profile writers, poets and publishers.

  The group had come under heavy criticism for using funds from the Israeli government, which jails Palestinian journalists and writers in Israel and the occupied West Bank for their work.

BDS endorsed by cities, churches, political groups and unions

   Norway’s largest and most influential trade union organization called for a full boycott of Israel in May, just days after the Norwegian municipality of Lillehammer passed a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement goods.

   Lillehammer became the third city in Norway to call for a settlement boycott, following Trondheim and Tromsø.

The city council of Barcelona voted to uphold the right to boycott Israel in April, while condemning Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, calling for an end to the Gaza blockade and ensuring that the city’s public procurement policies exclude companies that profit from Israel’s human rights abuses.

   In July, the 95,000-member strong Mennonite Church USA joined a growing number of Christian denominations that have taken action to support Palestinian human rights over the last few years.

   In a resolution approved by 98 percent of delegates at its Florida convention, the church voted to condemn Israel’s military occupation and to support divestment from companies that profit from violations of Palestinian rights.

   On 7 July, the World Communion of Reformed Churches called on the more than 80 million people in its member churches worldwide to examine their investments related to the situation in Palestine.

  A month later, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) overwhelmingly voted to endorse the BDS call.

  “Just as we answered the call to boycott South Africa during apartheid, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” the DSA deputy national director stated.
The largest democratic socialist organization in the United States with more than 25,000 members, DSA has seen its membership quadruple with the resurgence of left-wing politics in the US and Europe, particularly since the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.

   In the UK, Jewish members of the Labour Party founded a new group – Jewish Voice for Labour – that presents a challenge to an existing Israel lobby group positioning itself as the representative of Jewish members of the party.

  Jewish Voice for Labour’s founding document upholds “the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities, such as boycott, divestment and sanctions.”
Also in the UK, the country’s largest union for school teachers launched a boycott of HP over the technology giant’s role in the Israeli occupation.

G4S was further ostracized

  The world’s largest private security company, G4S, continued to face heavy financial losses around the world as its profiteering from human rights abuses came under further scrutiny.

   G4S has helped operate Israeli prisons where Palestinians are tortured and has managed juvenile prisons, detention and deportation facilities in the US and UK.
The firm has also been implicated in labor and human rights abuses from Africa to the offshore facilities where Australia detains refugees and asylum seekers.

   An Ecuadorian research institute announced in February that it had dropped its contract with G4S after meeting with activists.

   Following a campaign led by Jordan BDS, UN Women in Jordan dropped its G4S contract in October, becoming the fifth UN agency in Jordan to do so.

   And the transportation board of Sacramento, California, moved to dump its security contract with G4S following work by campaigners to highlight the company’s role in rights abuses in Palestine and the US.

   Last year, G4S announced that it was dropping a slate of controversial businesses, including its Israel subsidiary and juvenile detention services in the US.

   The Financial Times described the move as an attempt by G4S to distance itself from “reputationally damaging work.”

  But campaigners around the world vowed to maintain pressure on the company as long as it remains complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights.

Students fought

   South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology announced in December that it will respect the call for the boycott of Israeli institutions complicit in the violation and denial of Palestinian rights.

   “As a progressive university in a democratic South Africa, we want to affirm that TUT will not sign any agreements or enter into scientific partnerships with any Israeli organization or institution until such time that Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory,” the university stated, citing a decision taken by its governing council in November.

   And college students across the US continued to mobilize for Palestinian rights despite increasing repression by administrations and outside Israel lobby groups.
Divestment resolutions were passed at Tufts University in Boston, the University of MichiganCalifornia State University - Long Beach and at De Anza Community College in California.

   A resolution passed by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison voted unanimously to back a broad-based resolution calling on the university to drop its ties to companies that profit from mass incarceration, theft of indigenous land, police violence, the US-Mexico border wall, economic injustices against people of color and Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine.

  In New York, students at Fordham University brought violations of their rights to organize and assemble to court, challenging the decision by an administrator to ban Students for Justice in Palestine.

  And in the UK, the annual, global Israeli Apartheid Week – a series of events meant to raise awareness of Israel’s policies of apartheid – took place on more than 30 university campuses across the country despite a government backed campaign of repression.

Anti-BDS legislation was challenged

  Two federal lawsuits were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which challenge the basic constitutionality of state and federal anti-BDS laws.
Israel lobby groups have accelerated their promotion of legislation aimed at chilling free speech and blacklisting advocates for Palestinian rights. By December, 23 states passed anti-BDS laws.

  There is also a bill pending in Congress – the Israel Anti-Boycott Act – that could impose large fines and long prison sentences on companies and their personnel if they are deemed to be complying with a boycott on Israel or its settlements called for by an international organization.

   A lawsuit was filed against the state of Kansas in October on behalf of a public high school math teacher, Esther Koontz, who participates in the consumer boycott of Israeli goods.
Koontz is a member of the Mennonite Church USA, which passed a resolution in July in support of divestment from companies that profit from violations of Palestinian rights.

  Another lawsuit was filed against the state of Arizona in December on behalf of an attorney who contracts with the government to provide legal advice to incarcerated persons, according to the ACLU. He participates in the boycott of Israel.

   But in Oregon, three separate bills impugning the BDS movement failed to get a hearing, following sustained pressure by human rights activists and faith leaders across the state.
The bills were backed by Jewish communal groups that organize nationwide efforts to combat the movement for Palestinian rights.

  Activists said that the failure of the bills should encourage campaigners fighting back against similar anti-BDS measures in state legislatures and the US Congress.

Editor’s note: Additions to this post have been made since its initial publication.
Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).

© 2000-2017

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs